Over three days, we exhibited a stand outside the debating chamber in the Scottish Parliament and engaged with multiple MSPs on the issues of child healthy weight and the food environment in Scotland. It was encouraging to see MSPs from across political parties stop by, listen to our evidence-based positions, and back our newly launched pledge: child healthy weight matters to me. Our message largely revolved around the concerning fact that childhood obesity prevalence in Scotland has started to rise in recent years, making it increasingly unlikely that the Scottish Government ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030 will be achieved. The Scottish Government has a number of devolved powers which could help alleviate poor diets for children and families, and we believe a public pledge will help raise awareness of the scale of the problem and, importantly, the solutions. MSPs who spoke to us at our stand were offered the chance to have a picture taken of them holding a sign with the pledge on it, all of which were posted on our Twitter account throughout the week.
It was also a great opportunity to solidify our position on the regulation of HFSS products in retail settings, which is due to be consulted on in parliament during the Autumn. The vast majority of MSPs we spoke to were on board with the idea of rebalancing promotional offers towards healthy products, and supported the benefits such a move could bring both in terms of public health outcomes and the financial savings for shoppers. We were delighted to be able to speak to Jenni Minto MSP, Minister for Public Health, and Women’s Health. We reiterated our support for the government’s policy on regulation of HFSS products, which was first proposed in 2018, and highlighted the need for bold and urgent measures.
Jenni Minto, Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health, stopped at our stand to hear about the pledge
Taking the pledge forward
We’d like to view our exhibition as the launch pad for a wider, national campaign on child healthy weight and the policy measures available to improve the situation in Scotland. Getting MSPs on board with the pledge is massively important, but there are many other influential stakeholders who could really help push the agenda forward and create momentum for change. In the coming months, we plan to engage with various communities that have responsibility for children, from public health to local authority leaders, to help create a stronger sense of urgency for improving diet and health outcomes for young people across Scotland.